Enthusiasts gather to celebrate Brooklands saviour

| 3 Oct 2011

A diverse collection of cars and motorcycles turned out at Brooklands Museum on 1 October to celebrate the motoring life of Bill Boddy MBE, the long-serving founder editor of Motor Sport magazine and dedicated saviour of the historic Weybridge track, who passed away on 7 July.

Boddy's special interest in Brooklands giants was acknowledged by the museum, which rolled out two of his favourite racing cars, the ex-Malcolm Campbell 1912 Lorraine-Dietrich ‘Vieux Charles Trois,’ and the Napier-Railton, Land Speed Record hero John Cobb’s legendary outer circuit record holder.Special guests included Vanwall ace Tony Brooks who was particularly interested in the ex-Arthur Dobson ERA R7B. “I never came to Brooklands, but I remember watching Raymond Mays in ERAs at Shelsley Walsh before I started racing a Healey Silverstone,” recalled Brooks. Later, the distinctive white 2-litre voiturette made several rapid runs up the Test Hill and took part in a few ‘race starts’ on to the banking.

Boddy’s strong associations with the Vintage Sports-Car Club inspired a superb turnout of pre-war machinery, including C&SC columnist Alain de Cadenet’s ex-Donald Healey Invicta Low Chassis fresh back from a 5000-mile round trip to Switzerland. “It’s my favourite car now and much better suited to touring than my Alfa 8C,” enthused de Cadenet.

London dealer Gregor Fisken brought down his Bentley 3 Litre Speed Model and Formula Junior stalwart Duncan Rabagliatti arrived in his rare 1955 Arnott sports car.

Racing machinery ranged from a pair of Bugatti Type 35s to a raucous Norton International and the Donington Collection’s F1 Brabham-Repco while the Vauxhall Heritage Centre demonstrated its fabulous Prince Henry model, another favourite motor of Boddy. Bentley specialist Stanley Mann added to the action by demonstrating the famous Mother Gun racer on the banking.

Cars with special Motor Sport connections included Denis Jenkinson’s Jaguar E-type coupé, and a VW Beetle that Boddy had as a company car, alongside a late-model 1977 1200 that belongs to VW.

The Sunbeam Talbot Darracq Register was out in force with a magnificent display celebrating the great years under the direction of chief engineer Georges Roesch before the Rootes take-over compromised quality. Highlights included Peter Pollard’s unique 1930 75/90. “It was a special order for Colonel Goldie Gardner who had Fox & Nichol tune it and K C Bodies of Surbiton build a special body,” explained Pollard.“The second owner took it to Goodwood for a special vintage rally in 1955 and invited Roesch to try the car. He did several laps but later said he didn’t approve of the modified engine. I’m only the third owner and I’ve had it since 1975.”

Other impressive road cars with connections to Brooklands drivers were Robert Lewis’ beautiful 1938 Lagonda saloon, its short-stroke 41/2-litre V12 sounding very sweet as it purred into the paddock. “We’ve just repainted it in the original colours of first owner Lord Howe who used it during the war when he returned to the Navy,” said Lewis. Howe lapped Brooklands in a Lagonda V12 sports racer at 108mph in 1938.

Boddy always loved original cars and would have approved of Peter Russell’s 1934 Aston Martin MkII Short Chassis. “I’ve just put it back on the road, and after discovering it was owned during WW2 by Spitfire ace Geoffrey Wellum, I drove down to Cornwall to reunite him with the car," said Russell. “He eventually sold the Aston in ’57 because it wasn’t practical for a young family. It still has the tyres he fitted 54 years ago!”

Ferrari specialist DK Engineering brought a fabulous 166MM, which has a happy story. Stolen from outside a hotel after the 2000 Mille Miglia, chassis 0314M was presumed destroyed, but eight years later was discovered partially stripped in an Italian scrapyard and has now been beautifully restored by the DK team.

Some photos of highlights of the event follow. Double click on the lead image above to view a slideshow off all the images.

Cars line up for the race start on to the banking.

Chris Jaques' Bugatti Type 35.

Mighty Napier-Railton was fired up.

Vauxhall Prince Henry leads the parade.

Peter Russell's 1934 Aston Martin MkII Short Chassis alongside C&SC columnist Alain de Cadenet's Low Chassis Invicta.